Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'll Take the Eagle over the Seven Stars

There are cliches and there are truisms. 

A few of truisms I like to keep handy:
1. You can often judge a man not so much by his friends, but by his enemies.
2. The louder someone protests, the weaker their position.
3. If you aren't making someone uncomfortable, you aren't doing your job.

Now, if you can get all three wrapped in to a nice, tight bunch ... then you've got something.

Remember about six-weeks ago, our friend Captain Henry J. Hendrix, Jr., USN, published a little thought piece, "At What Cost a Carrier?"

Well, well, well; Ser Jerry Wirebrush seems to have generated some secondaries.

Big Navy saw his 'widdle eaglet perched on the CNAS standard, and countered with a Vice Admiral and two Rear Admirals squatting astride FP in the form of David Buss, Bill Moran, and Tom Moore. 

Well played sir; well played. 

I want to use this as an educational opportunity. Go to the first link and read Jerry's article ... then go to the festival of stars article.

In one you have some critical thinking, testing the assumptions that everyone is comfortably resting on ... and then you have in the other, oh sorry guys - but this is really embarrassing to do ... but ... first - in the words of a great American - the random-Flag-Officer-article-generator nothing-burger;
When Adm. Jonathan Greenert assumed office in September 2011 as the 30th chief of U.S. naval operations (CNO), he issued "Sailing Directions" ... Since Day One of Greenert's tenure ... The Navy must, as Greenert's "Sailing Directions" states, provide "offshore options to deter, influence and win in an era of uncertainty." ... the strength of the U.S. Navy derives from more than just hardware. It derives from the adaptability and flexibility of this combat-proven team that throughout the past 70 years has evolved to overcome potential adversary capabilities. Time and again, the innovative and evolutionary character of naval aviation has proven its value to deter -- or substantively and decisively contribute -- to major conflicts around the globe, protect commerce and free trade, and ultimately contribute to the security of the United States. ... Greenert has used the USS Enterprise as a prime example in his "Payloads Over Platforms" theme for the future design of our Navy, and it is a testament to the aircraft carrier's proven track record of strategic adaptability.
Then we have this shiv between the ribs;
As we deal with declining budgets, there will be pressure to pursue a strategy suggested by some critics (who are mostly focused on near-term cost and perceived vulnerability) to eliminate some big-deck, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs) and convert the "savings" into some quantity of smaller surface combatants and L-class amphibious ships.
For the record - many have been advocating this well before the present budget situation.

We also have some things that are, to be blunt - spin and a-historical.
What clearly distinguishes the U.S. Navy from the rest of the world is its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and extremely effective (and becoming more so) embarked carrier air wing (CVW).
(BTW, can you find the whopper of the typo in the article? Funny.)Yes, and no. The airwing is much less effective than it once was. We have a deck full of short-legged light fighters, no organic ASW assets outside embarked RW that have other missions that need to be done, no organic tanking (buddy tanking does not count), and the surface force that goes with the CSG is much smaller with little depth to the bench.
...the revolution in precision strike weapons, such as the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM)...
Oh please. TLAM is well over a quarter century old. That is not revolutionary ... even UCAV when it comes online will not be revolutionary. You keep using that word, I do not think you know what it means.

Now, to be fair - the good Admirals do have some solid points to make - but 85% of the people will never read them because YOU HAVE TO GET TO PAGE 2 OF THE FRACKING ARTICLE TO READ THEM.

Seriously, make sure and read the second page. There you will find good, solid, reasons to defend the large deck carrier - something I happen to share with the authors (no offense Jerry, but I like some of your points as well).

Good googly moogly; slobber the boss on page 2; get your best point out on page 1. You mean to tell my in that chop-chain from he11, no one mentioned that?

Harumph ... Staff work. That isn't the point, really. At least not for me. No, here it is.

Big Navy has made some very bad calls in the last 20-years that has made the CVN less attractive and less useful - unforced errors.

We gave too much to the theory of "efficiency" over effectiveness. We sold away the best part of carrier air - long range strike. The ability to keep the bird farm far away from threats so the airwing could do the Lord's work at will. A very good modernized A-6F/G instead of the transformationalist's A-12 would have been nice. Throwing away the F-14D/Tomcat-21 for the F-18C/D/E/F as if they had to be a zero-sum game. Throwing away the organic tankers.  Etc.

With the "new" A2AD threats ... and we force our self closer to shore and more reliant on land-based tanking.  

It is hard to sell a Camaro as a sports car if you are only going to give it a V-6.

Let the discussion continue and ponder a bit - when it takes three Admirals to patch together something against some Captain ... I think we may have a discussion that is well worth everyone's time and mental effort. 

BZ to all.


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Zail said...

BZ all. Thanks Sal, nice post.
All you carrier and Naviation experts run the risk of bunching you panties whenever you get into arguments over the particulars of platforms. To an outsider (Army) you sound like the Chair Force, presuming the effectiveness of aviation (Douhetism or Billie Mitchell Disease). Yes, airplanes are very effective in some situations, but without the rest of the Fleet and the other services the carrier is nothing. The operative truth is that we are not able to afford the old platforms and they were never as effective as you now think they were - carriers too, to a great extent.

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